Four central Alberta United Conservative Party constituency associations have joined a call for an early review of Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership.
Constituency associations for Red Deer-South (Jason Stephan), Lacombe-Ponoka (Ron Orr), Innisfail-Sylvan Lake (Devin Dreeshen) and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills (Nathan Cooper) have voted in favour of holding a special general meeting to convene a leadership review before March 1.
As of Monday, more than a quarter (22) of the party’s constituency associations said they passed a special motion triggering the review.
The review, in which all party members can cast votes, would come weeks ahead of an already scheduled April 9 leadership review, which was moved up from November 2022. Meanwhile only those attending the meeting in April can cast votes in that review.
Red Deer-South constituency association president Patrick Malkin said they voted strongly in favour of the review in September, but added that it should not be seen as criticism of Kenney’s leadership.
“At the end of the day, we just think leadership reviews are part of the process,” said Malkin.
“It’s not a matter of not liking Kenney or the premier. It’s not a matter of that at all.
“We have to get it done anyways, so let’s move to action on it.”
Malkin said Red Deer-South members believe a review that all party members can vote on is the fairest route to go.
“It’s something that needs to happen and everyone needs a voice on it.”
In a virtual news conference on Monday morning, Calgary-Fish Creek constituency association president Jack Redekop acknowledged that some in the party are unhappy with Kenney’s leadership but added that he believes a majority of the constituent association representatives who have joined a series of virtual meetings in recent months support the premier.
Redekop said the proposed leadership review is a grassroots effort to allow all party members an opportunity to express their opinion on the premier’s performance. Constituency associations supported the review for a variety of reasons, he added.
“These aren’t rabble rousing, volatile, confrontational individuals for the most part,” Redekop said of the constituency association members supporting the early review.
Pressed on whether the call for an early leadership review would have happened had the premier’s and the party’s approval ratings been better and fundraising more successful, Redekop continued to insist it was simply an issue of timing and allowing party members to express their opinions.
“This is just presenting the most opportune time for every member of the party from every corner of the province to have their say.”
Central Peace-Notley Constituency Association president Samantha Steinke said board members there do not support the premier, but not all boards share that opinion.